CEO Stories: Designing Powerful and Engaging Events

Jennifer D. Collins
President & CEO of JDC Events

Jennifer Collins, author of Events Spark Change and owner of event planning business JDC Events, talks about what she learned on her journey from organizing family reunions to becoming a professional event planner.

After doing event planning on a part-time basis while working in public relations, Collins decided she needed either to devote herself to the business full time or leave it behind. She chose the former, but her timing was less than auspicious: just two weeks before 9/11. The hospitality and travel industries, which fuel event planning, ground to a halt. Determined to make the business work, she rebuilt it slowly over the next few years, getting her big break when she answered an ad to be a D.C.-based event planner for UC Davis’s Cocoa Symposium, in partnership with candy company Mars.

To Collins, the logistics of event planning aren’t nearly as complex or as interesting as the idea of bringing people together for a shared purpose and the challenge of helping to create change. She learned to think of events in very business-like terms: to be successful they needed a mission statement, measurable goals, and to be able to meet the needs of the various stakeholders. She also developed the SPARK model – Sensory; Purpose; Activations; Resources; Know-how – as a reminder of the critical elements for creating connections among people and making an event memorable and impactful.

About the Series: Featured stories from the intersection of the free market and entrepreneurial success. Here we speak with leading CEOs, academics, philanthropists and up and comers on their contributions and perspectives on the American economy.

About Ray Hoffman: Ray Hoffman, a veteran business journalist, is highly-regarded for his news and analysis features and insightful CEO interviews. Representing BusinessWeek on air for twenty-one years, Mr. Hoffman was the morning business news voice on the ABC Radio Networks from 1995 to 2006. Mr. Hoffman also represented The Wall Street Journal, on air, for eleven years. His daily WCBS CEO Radio feature was recognized by the New York Press Club as best radio business news report in both 2012 and 2015. In this podcast, Mr. Hoffman invites some of America’s most dynamic CEOs to share their stories as business builders and perspectives on free enterprise.